Utilities are starting to fight back as renewable power companies enter into power contracts directly with large industrial customers. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a 5 percent reduction in the electricity price that Minnesota Power charges 11 industrial customers in September. The customers account for 60 percent of the utility’s total load. The utility had asked the commission at the same time for a 10 percent rate increase for its residential customers to balance revenue, but the commission asked to see other options . . . . The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reported in August that the median price for utility-scale solar projects completed in the United States in 2015 was US$2.10 a watt on a dc basis (US$2.70 a watt ac) based on a sample of 64 projects, or 77 percent of all US utility-scale solar projects completed in 2015. The lowest-priced projects cost US$1.20 a watt with the lowest 20 percent at or below US$1.60 a watt. The lab looked at the “installed price,” which is the price at which each project was sold, including in a tax equity transaction. Fixed-tilt installations commanded a premium of US$0.02 to US$0.08 a watt. Prices varied by region of the country, with the most expensive projects in California and New England and the least expensive in the Southwest and Southeast. Projects over 100 megawatts were the least likely to show a price reduction because of the longer time required to construct and the administrative and regulatory challenges of dealing with sites as large as 10 square miles and 2.5 million solar modules. The data is in a report called “Utility-Scale Solar 2015” . . . . Prices for solar panels have slid approximately 20 percent in recent months to below 40¢ a watt in the US market . . . . Swedish company Vattenfall won a bid in September to supply electricity from two offshore wind farms near shore in the Danish North Sea for US$67.33 a megawatt hour, 20 percent lower than the previous record.